Blinken discusses Gaza with Saudi, Egyptian and French foreign ministers

Truce efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the UN offered no sign of progress

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a series of phone conversations with foreign ministers across the Middle East to discuss events in Gaza and Israel. Reuters
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a series of phone conversations with foreign ministers across the Middle East to discuss events in Gaza and Israel. Reuters

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the violence in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza in phone calls with French, Saudi, Egyptian and Qatari foreign ministers, the State Department said on Sunday.

In his call with Egyptan Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry, Mr Blinken "reiterated his call on all parties to de-escalate tensions and bring a halt to the violence, which has claimed the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, including children".

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said the ministers agreed on "the importance of working to reach an immediate ceasefire between the two sides, and they also agreed to continue co-ordination in the bilateral framework, as well as in regional and international ones, regarding what is in the interest of the Palestinian people and reaching a ceasefire".

Mr Blinken also had a phone call with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan to discuss the latest developments, Saudi state news agency SPA reported on Sunday.

They discussed "the ongoing efforts to calm tensions in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza and bring the current violence to an end".

Mr Blinken also spoke with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian about the ongoing violence, the State Department said

Mr Blinken and Qatar's Sheikh Mohammed Al Thani spoke about "efforts to restore calm in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza in light of the tragic loss of civilian life", the State Department said.

The officials discussed "the recent Israeli attacks on worshippers at the Al Aqsa compound and the attack on the besieged Gaza Strip", the Qatari Foreign Ministry said.

Meanwhile, a group of US senators on Sunday called for a ceasefire.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy and Republican Todd Young, the senior members of a foreign relations panel, said in a statement: "As a result of Hamas’ rocket attacks and Israel’s response, both sides must recognise that too many lives have been lost and must not escalate the conflict further."

Twenty-five other Democratic US senators and two independents issued a separate, similar statement.

Sheikh Mohammed also spoke by phone with Mr Shukry, where they reviewed "bilateral co-operation relations and developments in Palestine," the Qatari Foreign Ministry said.

Updated: May 17, 2021 08:11 AM

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